Kitchen Hacks

Ina Garten’s Cauliflower Cutting Trick Is Beyond Brilliant

Ina Garten can't stop giving me reasons to adore her. I don't mind one bit.

August 20, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is my everything.

I've been watching her cook beautiful spreads in her spotless—but not inaccessibly so—kitchen, and then throughout the pages of her books, for as long as I can remember. My best memories from middle school involve faking sick so I could stay home and lie in my parents bed, propped up on my elbows, mesmerized as she peeled potatoes effortlessly on the screen of their shoebox-sized television.

As I was finding myself as a cook (and an opinionated eater) in high school, I'd make her coconut cupcakes once a month. I don't dread New York winters, because when they come, I know it's the season to curl up with a bowl of her roasted tomato and basil soup. When I became a full-time recipe developer, I sat my boyfriend Nate down and told him, "You know, this makes you my Jeffrey now."

So, it should come as no surprise that she's blown me away once again. This time, with a video she posted yesterday to Instagram with the caption: "If you’ve been cutting cauliflower through the top and getting little bits all over your kitchen, I have a better way to do it!!"

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Top Comment:
“PRO TIP: leave in the plastic and thump it on your counter. Then, just pull the leaves and core out. You can transport this and dump from the "plastic bag" with ease and no mess :)”
— Angela

Of course I've been getting little bits of cauliflower all over my kitchen every time I break up a head into florets. I have little bits of cauliflower stuck to my floorboard from 2015.

Here's her trick:

Essentially, she resists the temptation to hack at the top of the cauliflower head (or worse, go in from the side) to start cutting away bite-sized pieces—which almost always leads to a confetti-like spray of dismantled white scraps. Instead, she flips it over and removes the core of its stem, first. Then, she uses the tip of her knife to break away about a third of the head, and from there, cuts it into florets.

To Use Up All That Cauliflower

Cauliflower Korma With Blackened Raisins (Gobhi Korma) From Meera Sodha

Deeply flavorful, super-creamy korma, streamlined with a few smart tricks: Roast the cauliflower in the oven, caramelize the onions low and slow, mix up a spicy yogurt-based sauce, and roast raisins till they blacken (yes, on purpose!) to scatter all over the top.

Cauliflower Pizza Bake

All the makings of your favorite pizza—pepperoni! tomato sauce! basil! ooey-gooey cheese!—but on a bed of crispy roasted cauliflower. Serve with a crusty loaf and be glad it's dinnertime.

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Pistachio Salad

Cauliflower appears in two ways in this dish—roasted and grated raw—and mingles with tarragon, mint, pistachios, and crunchy pomegranates. Some salty cheese, like feta or Parmesan, would not be out of place as an optional add.

Crunchy-Shell Cauliflower Tacos

The taco nights of your childhood are back—but remixed. Meaty cauliflower is roasted with chili powder until tender and flavor-packed, then piled into crunchy taco shells and topped with iceberg lettuce and cheese. Avocado, hot sauce, salsa, beans—add 'em all if you choose (or don't).

Priya Krishna's Bombay Toast With Roasted Aloo Gobhi

Shortcut, sheet-pan aloo gobi belongs between two slices of crusty, crispy bread, blanketed with melty cheddar cheese. Cookbook author, Priya Krishna, recommends using leftover sabzi for this type of sandwich, but it may be worth cooking up a fresh batch just for this.

Donna Hay's Pummelled Kale with Golden Cauliflower & Haloumi Croutons

Pummelled kale! Golden cauliflower! Halloumi croutons!!! This is a salad you'll never forget.

Do you have a favorite Ina Garten trick (or recipe)? Let us know in the comments!

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


runLP2 September 28, 2020
Thanks for the post! Too many haters. If you know, you don’t have to announce it.
Janet C. September 15, 2020
Huh! I stumbled on this method myself years ago, and yes, it does work.
JCrowe September 13, 2020
Sorry, this isn't her cutting trick. It's been around LONG before she was even close to being famous. Good tip, just not hers as the title suggests.
James N. September 12, 2020
Absolutely nothing new. I should get paid millions I guess.
June September 15, 2020
Agree. I appreciate the share, but this is how I've always cut cauliflower, and I'm old (71).
AlwaysLookin September 11, 2020
I guess I'm brilliant, that's how I've always cut Cauliflower ... really just seemed like the obvious way to do it.
Patricia C. September 11, 2020
This is exactly how I have always done it. There is still some mrs but — hey, Cooking can be messy. I actually look for cauliflower that is actually fresh enough to have leaves and green stem on it. Slice the stem and roast it with the leaves and the flowers. Love the extra umami these items g e to roasted cauliflower.
Mary Z. September 11, 2020 you thump it down on the core, I assume, like one does with a head of iceberg lettuce to get the core out?
Pups224 September 11, 2020
What I love about Ina Garten is that as she ages she makes no pretense at looking younger. She looks great!
Beth W. September 11, 2020
I am laughing out loud reading these comments! I’ve always just thumped it on the stem while it is still in the bag. Breaks up easy, no mess. I will Co-host a show with happycamper68! 🤣
happycamper68 September 11, 2020
Let's go, Beth!
debbie H. September 11, 2020
I loved your intro :)

And I offer that for those who are exasperated by this tip being “obvious” maybe think back to the first time you held that little bundle in your hands and DIDN’T know how best to cut it up. This tip is for those who don’t yet know.
Mark Y. September 11, 2020
This was posted by a “food writer “ who claims to be cooking since her youth. And something this basic wowed her.
debbie H. September 11, 2020
You don’t know till you do.
Susan N. September 11, 2020
I already did this intuitively! Woot!!
Mark Y. September 11, 2020
Most everyone did that ever spent time in a kitchen cooking or saw a head of cauliflower.
I tells you how to cut it.
Ken A. September 11, 2020
So based upon the comments, I think everyone except the author cleans cauliflower the way Ina does.
Yirgach September 11, 2020
Yeah, kinda obvious.
But maybe there are those new to the game who need a hint.
Anita M. September 11, 2020
Guess we're all beyond brilliant!
happycamper68 September 11, 2020
I didn’t know there was any other way - who exactly is cutting into a cauliflower from the top? Also - may I have a cooking show? ❤️ Ina!
Ed H. September 4, 2020
I cut up the core and roast it too. It's easily the best part when roasted. And the leaves too. Nothing goes to waste except the original cut.
Claire August 27, 2020
Who cuts the cauliflower from the top? Slicing it? Lol.....never heard that before! Our favorite family recipe for a cauliflower is breaded fried cauliflower, tartar sauce, and roasted potatoes with chives. We often make this during holidays skipping meat.

Anita M. August 26, 2020
Trick? I've always cut my cauliflower this way.
Elena September 11, 2020
Not trick. "Technique." 👀
OnionThief August 21, 2020
I actually take great pains to keep much of the stem and leaves as I can. Those leaves crisp up like a dream under a broiler, and stems taste so much sweeter than the florets. I pare a quarter inch off the bottom, chop the big leaves into 1 inch pieces, and then give each floret as long a stem piece as possible. Its the best part!!
Thea M. September 11, 2020
The stem reminds me of the flavor of kohlrabi which tastes great blended with potatoes to make mashed potatoes that trick my kids!
mdelgatty May 28, 2020
You don't even have to core cauliflower; easier and safer is to just use a paring knife and go round and round cutting off the florets. I usually just pop the core in the 'soup making' bag I keep in the freezer. I am going to try the thunking-in-the-plastic technique, though!
mdelgatty May 28, 2020
Starting from the bottom after turning it upside down, I should have said...
Bruce September 11, 2020
Yes...that's what I do, and with broccoli too
Jacki October 10, 2019
Ina Garten's Cook Like a Pro is already available on Amazon for $19.39 and free 1 day shipping if you're a Prime Member...just saying! Why wait??!!
Rebecca T. October 11, 2018
Obvious or not, it's a great technique that works well with broccoli too!